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Exclusive: BMW confirms all-paw M5

Oh my g-AWD: BMW has finally confirmed that its next-generation M5 super sedan will utilise an all-wheel-drive system to handle the improvements in performance compared with the current M5 (pictured).

All-wheel-drive and twin-turbo V8 power locked-in for BMW’s next-gen M5 bruiser

BMW logo21 Oct 2016

BMW’s new-generation 5 Series-based M5 super sedan will employ an advanced all-wheel-drive (AWD) system to handle a twin-turbocharged V8, targeted to produce about 450kW and more than 700Nm of torque.

Speaking exclusively to GoAuto at the Melbourne unveiling of the seventh-generation 5 Series, BMW Munich product expert Sven Arens confirmed that the new M5 will adopt a version BMW’s all-paw xDrive system, albeit with a heavy rear-axle bias, to handle increased performance.

“Yes, all-wheel-drive. 20:80 [torque] split,” he said.

While the new car will likely be able to vary that torque split ratio depending on traction, the new M5 will be the first full-fat M passenger car (excluding SUVs) in history to feature an all-wheel-drive powertrain and also points to where future M6, M3, M4 and M2 cars could be heading.

While purists will bemoan the shift away from rear-wheel-drive M passenger cars, Mr Arens justified the switch to AWD technology with the fact that BMW has simply reached the limits of two-wheel performance.

“Make the calculations yourself,” he said. “Engines have become so powerful. For a reasonable saloon car, the cut off is 700Nm of torque on two driven wheels.

“With the current M5 we are at 680Nm and thanks to the fact that we use Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, it can get all the traction and all the power on the ground.

“If we are now stepping up to 600hp, which means we are going to go beyond the 700Nm of torque, only if you would use a [Michelin Pilot Sport] Cup 2 tyre would you be able to transfer that to the ground.

“But then it means your customer would come in every 5000km for new tyres. They won’t be very happy.” Competing against the BMW M5 in the luxury super sedan segment will be the yet-to-be-revealed Mercedes-AMG E63, and the Audi RS6 – both of which can send power to all four corners.

Mr Arens referenced Mercedes-AMG models capable of producing 1000Nm of torque and the Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat vehicles that peak at 880Nm as rear-drive cars that are not able to capitalise on their mountainous torque numbers.

“Look at what Mercedes does, in their cars that have 1000Nm it’s only available from 4th gear, its limited to 700Nm in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear,” he said.

“So you need to cut it off, because otherwise it just turns into smoke. Look at the Hellcat, switch off the traction control system, and you’re not going anywhere.

“We have reached a point, for two-wheel-drive, the limit has been reached, the next step must be all-wheel drive.” Mr Arens also spilled the beans on the engine powering the next M5, confirming various reports and rumours of an eight-cylinder motor.

“It is going to be a V8, obviously,” he said. “Double turbo. Modelled around 600 horsepower (447kW).” The engine will likely be a tweaked carryover from the outgoing M5 – which uses a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 to produce up to 423kW of power and 690Nm of torque – but is expected to receive upgrades to engine management, cooling and the turbos for the increased grunt.

Zero to 100km/h figures are expected to be much better than the current M5’s 4.2 seconds and outperform the next-generation M550i xDrive’s 4.0s dash, putting it in the sub-four second category for the first time.

Estimated power figures put the upcoming M5 on par with the reported 600hp (447kW) of the upcoming 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 Mercedes-AMG E 63 and easily surpass the 423kW/680Nm from Audi’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo RS6.

The new M5 is expected to take advantage of enhancements introduced in the seventh-generation 5 Series model range, including new LED headlights, improved aerodynamics, improved safety technologies and updated connectivity options.

The new-generation 5 Series will launch in Australian in March next year, putting a global reveal of the flagship M5 sometime in 2017 and a local launch in 2018.

The current BMW M5 range kicks off at $184,715 before on-roads for the Pure edition and tops out with the $230,615 Competition version.

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